Northeastern students try marketing with restaurant week
A Northeastern high school class comprising ninth- through 12th-graders is hosting a restaurant week through Saturday.
Several restaurants in Northeastern School District are participating with the high school class: Bobcat Creamery, 83 Diner, Conewago Inn, Debbie's Pizza, Manchester Cafe, Paradise Pizza Express, Farmers Pizza and Grill, The Pizza Box and Hoagie Shop, and Wolfy's on Wheels.
The idea was started when the owner of Bobcat Creamery, Bryan Klinger, reached out to Northeastern's business teacher Tana Kling with the idea of a restaurant week similar to York City's. When Klinger first bought the ice cream shop at 117 S. Main St. in Manchester in January 2015, he knew he wanted to get the local high school kids involved. He did so by running contests that would allow the students to suggest names for the business as well as the logo.
"I let them run with it," Klinger said. "It was a good learning experience for them."
Kling and Klinger said the students did nearly all of the legwork and divided the tasks based on the different skills of her students. For example, one student made a website for the restaurant week while another group of students worked on fliers and yard signs.
Getting started: The students began by making a list of local restaurants and calling to see if they would be interested in participating. If they were, a small fee was collected to help pay for the cost of the yard signs and fliers.
Next came promotion of the week, which involved making a website for the event. Fliers and posters were designed, and the class voted to decide which design would be used. Then the students drove around the area to hang the fliers and posters and put the yard signs in visible spots. Photos were taken of the businesses to feature on the website.
"I'm hoping that they get real-life experience of what some of the marketing process entails: making sure the fliers are perfect, making sure you don't say the wrong thing to the restaurant owners," Kling said.
This is the first year in her 15-plus years of teaching that Kling has tried anything like this with her classes, but she said it's an assignment that will be continued in the future. She described the last year as a learning experience for what they can do differently next time.
"I think if it works out and it works to our benefit, I think we'll be doing it in the future," Kling said. "I can't imagine that we wouldn't."
Klinger also enjoyed working with the students and said he will continue to do so. A group of approximately eight students currently serves as his board of directors. The students meet once a month and make business decisions for Bobcat Creamery. Klinger said next year he will ask for more applications from students interested in serving on the board.
Students are chosen through an application process. The students play a hand in making many decisions for Bobcat Creamery, including the specials that will run during the restaurant week.
The restaurants: John Marks, executive chef and son of the owner of Conewago Inn, 3480 York Haven Road in Manchester, explained his focus was on helping the kids.
"We hope we can get some new people in our door to see the place," he said. "We want to help the school out in any way we can. I'm not exactly sure what to expect, but nothing risked, nothing gained, right?"
Many of the restaurants are offering special deals or foods during the restaurant week to increase the draw. Conewago Inn is offering a 10 percent discount.
Another participant, Debbie's Pizza, 229 S. Main St. in Manchester, plans to offer different lunch and dinner specials, according to owner Debbie Young. During lunch, the restaurant will have a different sandwich, fry and drink special for each day of the week. Young said during the dinner rush the focus will be on specials that cater to families.
"I thought it was a good idea (to participate)," Young said. "Sometimes I think that people who live just 10 minutes away don't even know we're here, and we wanted to bring some new awareness to the area."
Bobcat Creamery also is doing a different special each day of the week. The creamery already does something different every weekend, such as movie nights and live music, but on Saturday there will be a car show at the creamery, and anyone who buys a root beer will be able to keep the Bobcat Creamery mug that the soft drink comes in.
"I hope we get a lot of new people in that see what we're all about," Klinger said. "Once you get a new face in, you hope they have a good experience and come back."